Open Enrollment

Dear A-Team:

If you haven’t come to class this semester, because Life has been getting in the Way – I can help !!!!! I can now open up my classes on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays for you to come and sew in West City Center’s room 209. I will be able to help you, with your personal projects, from 5 to 6 PM in my Tuesday/Thursday course. Of course, the class is open till 9 PM, so you are welcome to stay for the entire class. You can also borrow one of the school’s home machines to sew on. I do have “Sew Along with Joanie” demos to perform from 6 to 9 PM on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

On Mondays, I teach embroidery. We will be embroidering our zodiac stitch outs. I will be able to whittle down the help list from 5:30 till 8 PM. At 8 PM, I do need to give a quiz and go over the answers. If you choose to come on Mondays…..the class starts at 5:30 PM and goes till 9 PM.

You are welcome to come to any of these 3 classes. On Wednesday nights, I teach in a computer classroom. If you are interested in this class, speak to me personally. Hope to see you all this week !!!!!!!

What’s happening in the courses

Embroidery: Every Monday we stitch out what we edited with Embird on the previous Wednesday. It’s getting easier. You can edit more than one zodiac design in the class period. We did the buffalo and started the rat. I know that some of you, are getting close to needing a second project. We will discuss this in class. I have 2 wonderful projects planned. As a class, we will need to pick one so that I can set it up.

Niche Marketing: In the computer room last week, we had presentations on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Blogs. We even had a comparison done !!!!! You can see how important these web sites are to your clients. Public Relations and Marketing done on these sites will definitely help your business because these sites are where your customers and future customers hang out. This coming Monday, you have Quiz #3 at 8 PM. On Wednesday, you need to start the research for your Power Point Marketing Plan. Redesigning 15 slides takes time. Time to get good in the program and time to make the slides authentically your own.

Sew Along with Joanie: Portfolio: Last week, we did progressively harder seams. We learned the slot seam, the classic French seam and the French serged variation seam last Tuesday. This was just too easy. So we also did the curved seam. We learned how to ease and how to staystich. These are two very very important techniques. Last Thursday, we learned how to cord a seam, flat fell a seam and how to inset a corner into a seam. This coming week, we will be learning all about elastic and sleeve caps on Tuesday. On Thursday, we are going to have a great time with the sergers. You will LEARN the variety of seams that these machines can do. It will be great fun.

See you all in class !!!!!

Important Links:

October 15th is Sew Pro’s semi-annual trip to the garment district and M & L Fabrics. They still have some tickets left. It is worth going on the bus for $45. Here is the October ad for Michael Levine’s. Free Pineapple Embroidery Design Free Flower Pot and a CUTE cupcake Design

Check out these Sweater Spats. Such a great idea !!!!

If you have never visited The Spirit of the Cloth…..GO !!!! It is a wonderful place to buy special fabrics. I might not totally agree with her concerning the needles, but we can still be friends !!!! Swadesh… will like this little hole in the wall. Take a friend, walk across the street and explore Old Town !!!!!!


How Important Are Needles?

The most important item in your sewing studio is a needle. Without needles your sewing machine is useless, you can’t even hand sew without a needle. Unfortunately needles are usually the last thing most sewists think about. We buy good fabric, lots of patterns and sewing machines that do everything except cook our dinner but we won’t change a needle. Look at the simple sewing machine image above, what could it do without a needle?

Many of you have heard me say that a sewing machine is only a motor designed to push a needle through the fabric. If you are using the wrong needle or a dull one you are basically shoving a ballpoint pen through your fabric. A dull needle can cause skipped stitches, looping, and snags in your gorgeous fabric.

The primary function of a needle is to make a hole in the fabric for thread slip easily through. You want to consider the kind of fabric you are using when selecting the proper needle for your project. I change my needles with every garment or 4-5 hours of sewing. A new, sharp needle can make the difference between a fabulous outcome or a mess.

Needles come in systems, styles and sizes. Please check your manual for the proper system before buying needle. The next thing to consider is the style of needle you need for your project. I am not a fan of universal needles. Universal needles have a slight ball-point and are not the best choice for wovens, and on finer fabrics a universal needle can cause puckering.

I like jeans needles for wovens. Now don’t gasp! Jeans needles are very sharp and are available in smaller sizes. For your average sewing such as medium weight cottons, linens, rayons, silks and wools I use an 80 jeans needle. For finer fabrics like silk chiffon, cotton voile or crepe I use a 70 jeans needle. Jeans sizes 90 and up are wonderful for canvas, denim, upholstery weight fabrics. Don’t use a size 60/65 unless you are using lingere weight thread as the needle is so thin it makes a smaller hole than the thread and this causes the thread to shear and break.

I use a ball-point for jerseys, interlocks and sewing elastic. I use a stretch needle for two-way stretch, lycra and spandex. The size depends on the weight of the knit, usually a 70 or 80. Sewing elastic with a sharp needle breaks the elastic which causes it to stretch out faster and sag.

I don’t sell needles. I have nothing to gain except a happy sewing friend. When in doubt ask your authorized sewing machine dealer or consult your manual for the correct needle. The best thing you can do for your sewing or quilting is to toss out that old needle and put in a shiny new one that has never been used before.

Happy Sewing!


The shop will be CLOSED

October 1-14

Reopening 11am on Saturday, October 15

Watch your email for for that day!


2802 Juan Street, Suite 15 San Diego, CA 92110



Shop hours

Tuesday – Saturday 11 – 5

Free parking behind shop

Make Money with your Skills ! ©


Joan McKenna

Associate Professor

Office: 619-588-2244

Fax: 619-579-2278